Capitalism: Pro, Con, and Nixed

CAPITALISM, PRO, CON, and NIXED

 

MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you for participating in this discussion.

LEFTNIK:  Don’t thank me too soon.  You probably won’t like what I have to say.  And I can guarantee that Mr. Rightnik here won’t.  Not that I’m interested in what he has to say either.

RIGHTNIK:  Spoken like a true ideologue.  But I don’t blame you,  sir.  If all I had were your arguments,  I wouldn’t be interested in dialogue either.

LEFTNIK.  If all I had were your arguments, I’d be ashamed to open my damned mouth.

MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, I doubt that a further exchange of insults would prove productive.  So let’s try to set aside our differences for the time being and just chat a bit.  Why don’t we let you, Mr. Leftnick, start.  Mr. Rightnik and I will listen attentively and hold our tongues until you’re done.  Please be as concise as possible.

LEFTNIK:  Might as well make it brief because this conversation isn’t going to go anywhere, anyway.  I won’t try to ask Mr. Rightnik to open his mind because that’s an impossibility.  I’d settle for his just opening his eyes.  Unless he’s blind, he’d see where capitalism has led us.  He’d see Wall Street handing out millions a year to big shot bankers.  Corporations stiffing workers.  Shipping their jobs overseas.  Big stores jacking up prices on junk they foist on people.  Real estate outfits pushing families into houses they can’t afford.  Then banks throwing them out on the street.  Fast-food chains selling fattening crap.  Loan sharks charging ridiculous interest.  Everywhere you look, there’s these capitalists making piles of money, living in fancy houses, stuffing themselves with fancy food and vacationing in fancy resorts, and sending their kids to tennis camps and hi-brow colleges.

Why?  Profits, that’s why.  And to hell with everything else.  To hell with workers’ health, safety, future.  families.  Do those rich bastards have any idea of what its like being poor?  Barely getting by day to day.  Out of time and out of energy.  Kids running wild.  Living in rotten housing in dangerous neighborhoods.  Depending on government handouts.  No savings.  Getting sick or having trouble with the old jalopy and the jigs up.

And to hell with the environment too.  Free enterprise means freedom to screw up the earth.  To pollute the air, foul up the water, waste resources, tear into wilderness,  knock down whole mountainsides, hide toxic waste, deplete fisheries,  clear cut forests, and kill off endangered species.  As long as there’s a profit in it.

And how about those bone-rattling boom-and-bust cycles?  Look what’s happening overseas.  Corruption, tax evasion, class envy.  Mobs in the streets, nationwide strikes, people scrounging in trash containers for food.  I guess capitalism hasn’t got anything to do with all that misery, right?

What pisses me off the most, I guess, is the thought of these rich guys feeling so righteous about it.  If their conscience ever bothered them—which I sincerely doubt it ever does—they’ve got all those books by Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, and those other bullshit artists telling them how virtuous being rich is.  It makes me sick if you really want to know.  Open your eyes, Rightnik.  That’s capitalism for you.

RIGHTNIK: Right.  Economics in a nutshell.  Well done.

MODERATOR:  We can do without sarcasm, Mr. Rightnik.  Your turn to state your position.  Apparently you disagree with your colleague here.

RIGHTNIK:  That’s a safe assumption.  My leftist friend may have his eyes open, but the only thing he focuses on are snapshots that support his beatnik attitude.  Misses the big picture altogether.  If he’d step back a bit, he’d see that his hated capitalism isn’t crushing people.  Just the opposite, it’s improving their living conditions all over the world.

No end of examples, but let’s take the most momentous improvement in living standards in human history.  Go back to China in 1966.  No doubt Mr. Leftnik, here, would have cheered his fellow-capitalist-hater, Mao Zeodung, when he launched his Cultural Revolution.  Over the next ten years, his young socialist supporters brought the country to its knees.  They left the economy in ruins, disrupted farming, wrecked industries, murdered millions of educated Chinese and starved to death tens of millions of peasants.  They closed universities, detained students on collectivist farms, and left an entire generation illiterate.  And, as an encore, deliberately destroyed irreplaceable cultural treasures—whatever was contaminated by an association with the capitalistic past.  That’s socialism for you, Leftnik.

Eventually the Cultural Revolution collapsed, Mao died, and power gravitated to Deng Xiaoping, a reformer, who had the sense to rein in Mao’s fanatic supporters and replace socialism with free market policies.  Staging a counter revolution, Deng, in just seven short years brought China back to life.  Peasants were granted control of their land and permitted to sell their produce in the market.  Private enterprise was restored over much of the economy.  Economic and technological development was promoted.  Gross domestic product doubled, then quadrupled.  Today, thanks to capitalism, China has a properous middle class of some 470 million, is the second largest manufacturer in the world, and is in the process of lifting the living standards of the 650 million peasants still on the farm.

Leftnik blames capitalism for all the commotion overseas.  But it’s been socialist policies that have caused all the trouble.  Wherever you look—Greece, Portugal, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, much of Africa—you see impoverished, undernourished populations, economic stagnation, and political repression.  Compare those places with the US—the most prosperous, productive, freest country in the world.  It’s an open and shut case.  Capitalism is better, socialism is worse, the difference between day and night.  It’s my friend, here, who needs to open his eyes.

MODERATOR: Any rebuttal, Mr. Leftnik?

LEFTNIK:  Sure.  Rightnik likes to talk about the big picture.  Let’s pan out a little further, shall we?  The big-big picture where we can see how capitalists control everything.  Money talks and don’t those rich bastards know it.  Always finding ways to hold down the working class.  The whole establishment’s on the take—the crooked politicians, the slimy lobbyists, the shyster lawyers, the far-right radio nuts, the dumb hangers-on, steam rolling over everybody.  Nothing’s going to stand in its way.  Not unions, not minorities, not the writers trying to call attention to what’s going on, not the nonprofits trying to help people.  Like I said, the whole system stinks and that’s the size of it.

RIGHTNIK:  See what I mean?  Leftnik didn’t listen to a word I said.  Common sense, reason, logic, facts—go right over his head.  Just reverts to the standard leftist rhetoric.

MODERATOR:  Well, we’ve had spirited debate on both sides.  Well done, gentlemen.  Your presentations were spot on.

RIGHTNIK:  Both presentations?  What do you mean?  We were miles apart.  We can’t both be right.

MODERATOR:  Of course you can.  Both the left and right contain positions that are unquestionably valid.  And as long as you two stuck to those, I heard nothing objectionable.  You, sir, were entirely justified when you praised capitalism’s free enterprise system’s remarkable ability to organize the voluntary efforts of countless participants to produce the cornucopia of goods and services we have today.  And I felt Mr. Leftnick was equally justified in calling our attention to the criminally unjust way that capitalism parcels that cornucopia out.

But I regret to say, gentlemen, that you share the all too common tendency of your political colleagues to selectively advance that part of their platform with which they feel confident while scrupulously either avoiding,  or blindly attacking, the legitimate arguments of the opposing side.  So let’s take this opportunity to see if we can redress the failings on both sides, shall we?

LEFTNIK:  What failings are you talking about?

RIGHTNIK:  My side doesn’t have any.

MODERATOR:  Courage, my friends.   Surely you can stand up to a little added scrutiny.  Mr. Leftnik, it seems you consider capitalism and free enterprise to be essentially synonymous and, it’s clear, you repudiate them both.

LEFTNIK:  You’re damned right.

MODERATOR:  Quite.  But hear me out for a moment.  Let me suggest, sir, that the association they have in your mind is both unwarranted and unwise.  Consider an entirely unrelated circumstance.  You go to a grocery store and purchase a pear.  Then when you bring it home and cut into it, you find it half rotten and inedible.

LEFTNIK:  This is today’s homily?

MODERATOR:  Bear with me for a moment.  The question is who most deserves your righteous indignation over this incident?  The grower?  Probably not.  Presumably, when  he picked the fruit off the tree in his orchard it was fresh.  And the same could be said of the entire distribution network responsible for bringing the pear to your neighborhood—the grower, the trucker, the distribution warehouse, etc.  Most likely, the guilty party was the grocer for allowing the pear to overripen on his shelf.  Whatever your subsequent reaction on the matter, would it not make sense to confine it to the one individual that did you harm?

LEFTNIK:  That’s a bit simplistic, isn’t it?

MODERATOR:  Perhaps, but it makes my point.  I would argue that the same distinction can be applied to your notion of capitalism.  Were you to distinguish between capitalism’s two entirely independent activities—the acquistion of goods  versus the way those goods are distributed—your outlook might change.

LEFTNIK:  Then what?

MODERATOR: Then assuming you are genuinely interested in the welfare of the working class—as admirable a concern as it may be—you’d notice that they cannot subsist exclusively on words.  And that you’d start giving thought to the things they genuinely need such as ample food supplies, roofs over their heads, and decent jobs.  And the only system that can provide these necessities—that can keep the pie growing ever larger—is, as Mr. Rightnik contends, the free enterprise system.  It’s the only system, Leftnik, capable of feeding and sheltering the world’s population.  There is no alternative.  Every effort to cripple free enterprise has led to catastrophe.

LEFTNIK:  The only system?

MODERATOR:  Yes, because it is the only one anchored in human nature.  What do I mean by that?  People are inherently acquisitive, freedom loving, and competitive.  A free market system marshalls  these  innate characteristics and fans people out across the economy doing what comes naturally to them—searching for an unmet human need that they have the ability to fulfill and that will reward them the best.  In that manner, every economic niche gets filled automatically and efficiently.

LEFTNIK:  Maybe in theory.

MODERATOR: Not just in theory, sir.  You prove it yourself every morning when you sit down at the breakfast table.  You fill a bowl with the cereal you chose from the thirty choices or so available from the supermarket, sprinkle on some sugar, and add the milk you chose from the ten kinds offered—all at affordable prices.  Had the event not been so commonplace—and had you given it a moment’s thought—you not have taken a bite until first uttering a thankful prayer to the great God of Greed for his wondrous ways in setting forth this abundance before you.  You would have praised his ability to advance a myriad of voluntary, profit-making transactions from all over the country along distribution chains that amazingly culminated at your table.  You would have marveled at the flow of informaton required to coordinate this vast commercial system and refine it to your complete satisfaction.  You follow me, sir?

LEFTNIK:  Oh sure.  I think about all that stuff, but skip the praying on account of I don’t want to let the cereal get soggy.

MODERATOR: One more selfish act along the chain.  It qualifies you as free marketer.  Very good, Mr. Leftnik.  We’re making progress.  Can I assume, then, that contrary to your left-wing indoctrination, in the future you’ll regard Adam Smith’s invisible hand as something other than bullshit, as you had it earlier.  And can I take it that when you next contemplate the role of capitalism, you will not, as trite as it sounds, throw the baby out with the bath water?  Without generalizing on the worth of infants in general, this baby is far too valuable.

LEFTNIK:  Look, nobody—at least nobody I know—is advocating a command economy where Commie bureaucrats sit around deciding the price of shoelaces.  Obviously, trade is essential and if you want to call it “free enterprise,” that’s fine too.  My disagreement with free enterprise is the way in which it’s construed.  Like in “free” to do anything you damn want to as long as it earns a buck.  The market is powerful—that’s for sure.  Too powerful to just let it run wild.  Government has to step in to protect people and the environment.  I don’t care what Mr. Rightnik says.

RIGHTNIK:  Government never just “steps in.”  It stomps in like a rhinoceros.  You worry about free enterprise running wild.  What about government running wild?  Controlling prices, handing out subsidies, laying on tariffs, regulating everything, favoring this industry and that.  The next thing you know, free enterprise isn’t free anymore.  Enslaved enterprise is more like it.

MODERATOR:  Again, gentlemen, you both make good points.  Mr. Rightnik would argue, I believe, that since free enterprise is a natural phenomenon, technically it shouldn’t need surpervision.  And Mr. Leftnik, argues, quite rightly, that the facts on the ground prove that it does require supervision.  The two arguments both sound right but they are obviously contradictory.  What is amiss here?  I suggest that it is in Mr. Rightnik’s assumption that the free market, as it is now constituted, takes all costs into consideration.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  Point, Mr. Leftnik.

LEFTNIK:  It’s about time.

RIGHTNIK:  What costs are you talking about?

MODERATOR:  The hidden, but very real, societal costs incurred in most every commercial transaction—costs that now end up dumped into the public’s lap.  Environmental costs, exploitive costs, and social costs.  Toxic fumes flung willy-nilly into the air, scarce resources thoughtlessly extracted from the earth, the suffering inflicted upon workers in the underdeveloped world.  Unless those costs are factored in at the transaction level, the so-called free market is deprived of complete information and is thus bound to behave irrationally and in need of policing.

RIGHTNIK:  Those costs of yours are not only hidden, they’re unknown.  Probably unknowable.  And even if they were, there wouldn’t be any practical way to apply them.

MODERATOR:  I disagree.  Estimates could be made.  Charges could be applied as percentage surcharges.  I’ll grant it would take study, diplomacy, formal agreements, and legislative action, but I believe they are achievable.  The alternative, remember, is the mess we have now in which the distortions, arising from our “raw” free market, appear too late and too large to cope with.

RIGHTNIK:  By surcharges you mean taxes, right?  Taxes that open the door to more big government.  Sinking deeper into the swamp.

MODERATOR:  You’re too pessimistic, sir.  Government involvement need not always spell doom.  Consider the surcharges set by a government-authorized independent commission.  And if the surcharges were applied mechanically and universally, I think your fears would be largely allayed.

RIGHTNIK:  Government coming to the rescue of the free market?  That’s hard to swallow.  But I’ll think it over.

MODERATOR:  Mr. Leftnik, do you concur with that ringing endorsement?

LEFTNIK:  I like the idea of forcing the free market to face reality, but I’m not going to concur with anything until we get into the dark side of capitalism that Rightnik doesn’t want to talk about—how the loot gets divided.

MODERATOR:  Perfectly understandable.  It’s time we got to it, in any case.

RIGHTNIK:  Like I said before, I don’t claim capitalism is perfect.  It’s like what they say about democracy.  It’s the worst possible system except for all the others.  Look, I know it looks bad for some banker to earn five-hundred times as much as a guy flipping hamburgers.    But that’s the way things work in the business world.  Just like in nature.  Nature doesn’t give a damn about being fair to every living creature.  She does whatever it takes to keep things running.  Capitalism’s the same.  Hard-nosed.  Some people benefit a lot and some, as they say, are disadvantaged.  Winners and losers.  It’s a mixed bag.  But that’s the high price that has to be paid for capitalism to work.  And that’s the main thing.

LEFTNIK:  A high price is right.  I can’t imagine a system that would do a better job of creating an underclass seething over with envy and distrust.

RIGHTNIK:  As sort of a byproduct, right.  Just remember it’s the same system that is creating, at the same time, a prosperous middle class—the heart of a stable democracy.  And some rich people, too.  It’s a compromise.  So we just have to live with some of the stuff we don’t like.  Like I said, suck it in.

LEFTNIK:  No problem.  As long as you’re not one of the byproducts.  Who says we have to live with it?  Nature?  I don’t give a damn what she does.  If we let her dictate everything, we’d all be running around naked in the woods.  But we don’t.  We put on clothes and sit around in houses that have central heating.  And we elect governments to smooth things over, like making life fairer for everyone by redistributing income.

MODERATOR:  Now you’re the one I’m obliged to disagree with, Mr. Leftnik.  In some cases, government involvement is useful, but redistributing income is not one of them.  To begin with, before distributing wealth, government has to get its hand on it, right?  And once it does guess who’s first in line?

RIGHTNIK:  Government employees.

MODERATOR:  And their union bosses.  Exactly.  It takes billions to support all those parasites.  But that’s not the worst part.  The worst part is to whom government decides to dole out what’s left.  Its friends, of course.  Whoever will help it stay in power.  Given a few terms in office, any political party can bribe enough groups to assure its control indefinitely. Goodbye democracy.  Hello, despotism.

RIGHTNIK:  Point, Mr. Rightnik.

MODERATOR:  I’ll hand out the awards if you don’t mind, Mr. Rightnik.  And that one would be premature.

RIGHTNIK:  Why?

MODERATOR:  Let’s go back to your analogy linking the capitalistic system to nature’s.  The idea is a good one despite Mr. Leftnik’s unwarranted concerns about how each species applies those principles.  It’s nature’s fundamental guidelines that are important, and the closer our operations can mirror those, the more stable and, needless to add, the more environmentally friendly they will be.  Which brings up the question as to how faithfully capitalism abides by natural law.

RIGHTNIK:  I’d say, “pretty close.”  Companies compete with one another and each one evolves to improve its chances for survival.  Like specie do in nature.  The successful ones expand and those that don’t go out of business—extinct you might say.

MODERATOR:  The trouble is, Mr. Rightnik, your “pretty close” is not close enough.  Despite its superficial characteristics, capitalism can hardly qualify as a naturally-based system when, from the very beginning, its monetary system has been founded on an unnatural act.  The term “dirty money” did not originate out of the clear blue.

RIGHTNIK:  What unnatural act are you talking about?  Never heard of it.

LEFTNIK:  Not surprised.  Scandals like that are always kept secret.

MODERATOR:  I could do without your help as well, Mr. Leftnik.  Besides you’re wrong about the scandal being kept secret.  In this case, money’s unnatural act is shamelessly performed on a regular basis right out in broad daylight.  I’m referring, of course, to the voodoo money-creation ceremony that takes essentially worthless paper (or electrons) and, abracadabra,  pretends it’s infused with value.  It sounds fraudulent and, of course, it is except when enacted by government as a public service.  Any outsider attempting the same thing, would  stand accused of counterfeiting  and promptly locked up.

RIGHTNIK:  I don’t understand.  Money’s, money.  A medium of exchange.  It has to have value to work.

MODERATOR:  We’re certainly used to thinking of it that way.  But there may be alternatives.  Just by way of illustration, consider the use nature makes of catalysts.

RIGHTNIK:  Catalysts?

MODERATOR:  I’ll explain.  Let’s say a chemist were to attempt to synthesize ammonia by merely mixing its two ingredients—hydrogen and nitrogen.  He’d discover the result to be disheartening.  The two gasses would combine at such an intolerably slow rate as to make the process impractical.  However, were he to add finely divided iron to the mixture, the chemist would find the process greatly accelerated.  Interestingly, despite the crucial role played by the iron, it would turn out that none of it was actually consumed.  As much would remain at the end of the experiment as orginally added at the beginning.  In other words, the iron, served as one of a class of substances called catalysts.

RIGHTNIK:  What has that to do with money?

MODERATOR:  It suggests that, theoretically, there could be a monetary system in which money, too, had no intrinsic value beyond facilitating exchanges—in other words, that it, too, could act exclusively as a catalyst.

RIGHTNIK:  I can’t imagine how.

MODERATOR:  Picture a hypothetical market in an isolated, primitive community.  Moneyless participants bring whatever goods they have to sell or, lacking goods, offers to sell their labor at some future date.  At the market’s gate, they borrow whatever coins they think they’ll need with the understanding that their loans must be repaid in full when they exit the market.  Based on previous experience, each participant buys and sells according to his or her needs.  Those who sell the most and purchase the least, naturally find themselves with a surplus of coins.  These they hurriedly dispose of near day’s end aware that the leftover coins will be worthless at closing time.  Either they buy nonessentials for their personal use or goods they hope to sell on the next market day.  Those who sell least and purchase most end up with a deficit of coins that must, somehow, be raised before they will be allowed to depart.  This they do by selling off any unsold goods at bargain prices and/or agreeing to work off their indebtedness.  In the event any recalcitrant participant has not or will not settle his account voluntarily, an arbitrator steps in to make compulsory adjustments so that the gatekeeper’s account can clear.  By and large, then, everyone returns home with his or her needs met insofar as competition allowed.  The end result: trades accomplished, the industrious rewarded with excess goods, the laggards indebted, and the gatekeeper in possession of as many coins as he started the day with.

RIGHTNIK:  Sounds ideal.  All we’d have to do is burn all our paperwork, convert all our banks to restaurants, and convince Wall Street brokers to exchange their Savile Row suits for Polynesian skirts.

MODERATOR:  I wouldn’t go that far.  I would point out, however, that the native marketplace is, in some ways, superior to Wall Street’s.  It is not susceptible to bubbles or financial crises.  It fosters an egalitarian community devoid of class envy and yet provides plenty of incentives for better workmanship, and so on.  Transactions are transparent and there’s little room for dishonesty.  Mind you, I’m not suggesting Wall Street go native, all I’m saying is that we realize how imperfect our monetary system is and keep an open mind regarding alternatives.  And in that connection, the native marketplace provides a benchmark against which our current system can be compared.

LEFTNIK:  Sounds interesting, I suppose, but where does it lead?

MODERATOR:  To a new way of looking at things, my friend.  Consider the case in which a worker, say, spends $5.00 with a merchant and walks out of his store with his purchase.  Although the $5.00 has changed hands, it enabled the transaction and yet remained intact just like the iron in the chemist’s experiment.  So far, so good.  The transaction has thus far been a legitimate one.  Even if the merchant does not spend it immediately,  he’s bound to later on for salaries, equipment, supplies, whatever.  In other words, it remains in circulation.  The native marketplace has remained essentially intact.

However, should the merchant deposit the $5.00 in his personal bank account, he would have dramatically changed its character by activating its artificial attribute—the “store of value” originally impressed on it by the government.  By going into hibernation, as it were,  the $5.00 will have, in native terms, lost its legitimacy.

Needless to add, the merchant is not going to be deterred by his $5.00’s loss of reputation.  Not when he has so much to gain.  As long as he can store money that retains, or even increases its value, over time he can accumulate a cache of surplus savings that, one, furnishes him a secondary, ever increasing source of income from interest and investment—income that may be well beyond what he could earn by his own honest efforts; two, promotes him into an upper class in which educational advantages, social contacts, and financial connections all conspire to enhance his chance for success; and, three, enables him to provide his children with a head start in life well ahead of their less advantaged piers.

RIGHTNIK:  I still don’t see where you are going with this.  Thought experiment or no, you can’t have a workable economic system in which money is constantly kept in motion like a hot potato.  What about credit, savings, investment, financial instruments, property rights, business transactions, and so on?  They’re all essential in a modern economy, aren’t they?

MODERATOR:  Correct.  But does that mean we also have to live with an economic system that tips the scales so heavily in favor of the propertied?  One that perpetuates an updated, subtle form of indentur?  We ought to be smarter than that.

Let’s bring Mr. Leftnik back into the discussion.  Based on your association with the working class, tell us what advantage they derive from money’s attribute as a store-of-value?

LEFTNIK: None, whatsoever.  Working people are forced to spend their paychecks as soon as they get them.  Simple as that.

MODERATOR:  So it appears that only the upper class benefits from the government’s unnatural subterfuge.

LEFTNIK:  So what’s your solution?

MODERATOR:  I’ve already given it.  It’s perfectly clear, is it not that the villain in this situation is the set of rules we’ve established for the behavior of money.  They’re not cast in stone, you know, and they can be changed.

RIGHTNIK:  I don’t see how.  They’ve been around forever.  Nobody just made them up out of the clear blue.  They’re part and parcel of money’s very definition.

MODERATOR: I disagree.  The rules were manmade—derived from decisions made over the millenia by those who had a vested interest in, and a conscious bias toward, the preservation of money’s buying power.  In other words, the rich.  And since the rules were manmade, they can be unmanmade.  Isn’t it possible that a less biased group of rule makers could come up with an alternative set?  One that took into account the general welfare as opposed to just one class?  One that selected an optimum shelf life for money between the short-lived, catalytic-like dollar versus one blessed with eternal life?  One that allowed for a truly free market capable of providing prosperity for all?

RIGHTNIK:  No.  I don’t think it is possible.

MODERATOR:  Why is that, Mr. Rightnik?

RIGHTNIK:  Because your two objectives are contradictory.  If you think the free market is crucial, then you’ve got to retain all of the incentives implied by money’s store-of-value.  But once you do that, you kill the hope of the idealistic, equitable society you’re shooting for.  Seems to me you can have one or the other, but not both.

LEFTNIK:  Suck it in, moderator.

MODERATOR:  I’d rather not.  The two objectives we’ve been talking about need not be contradictory.  Elsewhere on this blog there is an essay entitled “Newconomics,” an economic system that, I believe, accomplishes both objectives rather nicely.  A second essay “Newconomics, Continued,” elaborates on the first.  Our discussion today could be considered an introduction to the system.

LEFTNIK:  What’s new about Newconomics?

MODERATOR:  We haven’t the time to go into it fully, but let me say this.  As I intimated before, when I got stuck trying to think of a solution to the kind of problems we’ve been discussing here, I reverted to my fallback question, “what would nature do?”  She’s too shrewd to reveal all of her guidelines, but I find that anything I can make of them is always helpful.  Here are a few:

One, nature is insistent that any system of hers be built on units that are absolutely valid.  That provides her with the solid foundation she needs to create her amazingly sophisticated processes without loss of reliability.  By contrast, we start with  faulty components we’ve slapped together and then try to construct a foundation out of those.  As a result, instead of sophistication and reliability, we get complications and disorder.

Two, nature is a control freak.  So she ensures that every function she undertakes can be individually controlled by at least one mechanism—maybe more.  We, on the other hand, carelessly set up crude master panels in which one switch simultaneously triggers changes on any number of interrelated functions with, as might be expected, entirely unpredictable results.

Three, we’re so used to nature’s refinements that we overlook the obvious.  Nature requires that each of her transactions be mechanical, quantifiable, and balanced.  Without belaboring our inadequacies, let me say we do none of those things well or consistently.

That should give you some idea of how newconomics came about.  As you might guess, it’s not your run-of-the-mill capitalism.

LEFTNIK:  I would have guessed as much.

RIGHTNIK:  Who came out ahead in the debate, by the way.  Stupid Leftnik here or me?

MODERATOR:  No winners, I’m afraid.  Just one loser.

LEFTNIK: Who could that be?

MODERATOR:  The notion of ‘capitalism’ itself.  We’ve shown it to be so encompassing as to be meaningless.  It would clarify debate if we dropped it from our vocabularies altogether.

RIGHTNIK:  I’m not sure I’m willing to go that far.

MODERATOR:  Try.  Now that the smoke has cleared, I suggest you two go off and have a beer somewhere.  Mr. Leftnik seems to have grudgingly accepted the free market and you, sir, have been alerted to the danger of parked money, so the two of you might find that you have nothing left to argue about–that, indeed, you’re both pretty much in the same camp.  Might even consider ditching your names and calling youselves “Indepeniks.”

RIGHTNIK:  Us with the same identities?  We’re hardly on speaking terms.

INDEPENIK ONE:  I’ll risk it.  Come on, Rightnik, or whoever you are.  I know of a hang out near here.  Sorta nondescript, but it’s okay.

INDEPENIK TWO:  That figures.  All right, let’s go.

(as the two leave, voices fade away)

INDEPENIK ONE:  I was a little confused when the discussion began, but there was one thing I could be sure of.  You were invariably wrong.

INDEPENIK TWO:  You too?  I felt exactly…

 

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